The Madras Mag’s Conversation Series: Baradwaj Rangan and Aditya Sudarsan.

I attended the Madras Mag’s Conversation Series which featured Bharadwaj Rangan and Aditya Sudarsan on Tuesday, 31st March 2015, at the Gallery Sri Parvati in Chennai. Both the authors read from their new books. An interesting conversation about the shortage of Indian films in English language also took place. It was definitely a fascinating and absorbing event.

Here’s a link to The Hindu’s coverage of the event:

http://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/events/baradwaj-rangan-and-aditya-sudarshan-the-art-of-dialogue/article7057620.ece

The Final Session of Anita’s Attic (Season 1).

Yesterday was the final session of Anita’s Attic (Season 1). It has been a great learning experience for me. Anita’s insights and suggestions have significantly improved the quality of my writing.

This is what our mentor, renowned author Anita Nair, had to say:

‘It was the penultimate session of Anita’s Attic and over the course of the last eleven weeks, my writers had met an assortment of literary people. I saw their morale rise and fall; I saw energies flag and then revive; I heard doubts they voiced, the doubts they didn’t…I tried to hold their hand as much as I could but eventually I thought they needed to hear from someone who after a career of meeting deadlines now chose to make her own and motivate herself with the passion she felt for words and joy that filled her when she wrote. Many writers of my generation cut our publishing tooth on a page called YOUTHINK in the Indian Express. I am not sure if it was the new Indian Express then. But apart from Harry Miller whom I worshiped, the only other name I knew in the newspaper was Aditi De. Soon as the person one sent off one’s heart and soul out to every few weeks, she became someone who could determine what your state of mind was like. Euphoria if a piece was accepted. Anxiety if one didn’t hear from her. Anguish if a rejection slip came my way. Over the years Aditi and I met, and perhaps one of my true moments of accomplishment was when she interviewed me after my first novel The Better Man was published. Aditi came. Aditi saw. Aditi conquered. At the end of the session, one of the writers described her as a rainbow. Thank you Rainbow De for putting a smile on my writers faces just before they went forth on their own.’

My Review of Paul Auster’s ‘City of Glass’.

City of Glass (The New York Trilogy, #1)City of Glass by Paul Auster
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

One of the most complicated novels I’ve read. The protagonist, a mystery-fiction writer, is mistaken to be a detective. He then acts to be a real detective, accepts the case and starts behaving like the character-detective in his own novels. While working on the case, the protagonist gets himself lost in the complex madness of reality and identity.

View all my reviews

The University & Creative Writing.

Brunel Library

Around 3 months ago, The Guardian came up with an article titled ‘Is a creative writing degree worth the money?’ (http://www.theguardian.com/education/mortarboard/2014/mar/03/students-creative-writing-degrees-are-they-worth-it). I think the subtitle of the same article, that stated ‘Some people say you’ll never get a job with a creative writing degree, but they teach valuable transferable skills’ (http://www.theguardian.com/education/mortarboard/2014/mar/03/students-creative-writing-degrees-are-they-worth-it) aptly encapsulates the whole article. My personal experience of doing a full-time M.A. in Creative Writing was with no doubt the best learning experience of my life.

The most important part of any University-level creative writing degree is the fact that students get an opportunity to workshop their creative work in workshop-groups. During my M.A., I was fortunate enough to be in a group of people, who may have a different style of writing, but have the same fundamental schema in life – to be professional creative writers. These workshop-groups would give me constructive criticism on my work, with an acutely strong emphasis on ‘constructive’. Also, our highly respected Booker-nominated faculty would be strongly involved and professionally orchestrate these workshop-groups .

Apart from the continuous improvement of my writing skills, the workshop-groups also helped me develop a ‘habit’ of writing. If I had to produce work that needed to be discussed and critiqued in groups on a weekly basis, I in-turn also had to achieve discipline in my writing schedule.

Believe me, when you face a writer’s block even after you have consumed two cups of machine-dispensed coffee, and are unproductively stirring the questionable dark sedimented residue in the bottom of you second cup, it’s good to know, there’s someone you can contact who completely understands what you’re going through.

It’s good to see that Brunel University, the university where I did my M.A. in Creative Writing from, is number 6 in The Guardian’s latest ranking of UK universities for their English and Creative Writing department. In the rankings, Brunel is right after Oxford and right above Warwick. More importantly, Brunel’s three places above University of East Anglia! (http://www.theguardian.com/education/ng-interactive/2014/jun/03/university-guide-2015-league-table-for-english-and-creative-writing)

Using ‘Detrimental’

I’ve recently noticed that the word ‘detrimental’ is highly overused in the Indian media. To see how overused it is, you can just search the words ‘Detrimental’ and ‘India’ in Google News. Recent articles from known daily newspapers of India will pop-up as the search result.

The true definition of the word ‘detrimental’ according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary is “obviously harmful : damaging’ (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/detrimental).

Dear Indian media, if there is a news article to report, it’s mostly not ‘obvious’, if it was obvious, it wouldn’t be news-worthy. Therefore, please use the words ‘harmful’ or ‘unfavourable’ where required, instead of a stronger word like ‘detrimental’.

Historians, Literature and Film (An example from The New Yorker).

Historians, Literature and Film (An example from The New Yorker).

Michael Schulman recently stated in the New Yorker – ‘Accepting the Oscar for Best Picture on Sunday—technically, it might have been Monday at that point—Steve McQueen took a moment to thank “this amazing historian Sue Eakin,” who “gave her life’s work to preserving Solomon’s book.” It was an unusual shout-out: we’re used to seeing Harvey Weinstein or God get thanked, not historians from Louisiana.’ (http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/culture/2014/03/the-historian-who-unearthed-twelve-years-a-slave.html).